But legal experts say the case of a Long Island mother who drowned her three children in a bathtub and is now seeking to cash in could succeed because of a loophole. Since Leatrice Brewer was never convicted — instead found not guilty by reason of mental disease — legal experts say she could make a plausible case to receive some of her children’s $350,000 estate.
“The Brewer case is a novel circumstance,” said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. “The facts do seem to place her outside the scope of the law, although that does not mean there could not be other barriers to her recovering from the estate of her children.”
Brewer, 33, slashed her daughter’s throat before drowning her and two younger brothers in 2008, believing she was saving them from the deadly effects of voodoo. Hours after the killings, she survived two suicide attempts — swallowing a concoction of home cleaning fluids and later jumping out a second-story window.
She was found not guilty because of mental disease or defect in the deaths of the children, ages 1, 5 and 6, and was committed to a state psychiatric hospital.
A hearing before Nassau County Surrogate Court Judge Edward McCarty next month will determine if Brewer is entitled to a share of the proceeds from two lawsuits the children’s fathers settled with the county; they claimed social workers failed to properly monitor the woman and children.
Caseworkers visited Brewer’s apartment two days before the killings and found no one home but neglected to schedule an immediate follow-up visit. Two social workers were later suspended.